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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a small kindle issue
I am part way through this book, and the content is VERY interesting (despite the fact I am not a huge football fan I am a numbers fan and loved Moneyball, the book) BUT be warned if you get the kindle version. It DOES NOT display some of the graphs discussed in the text on my Paperwhite although it DOES show them on the Android version of the kindle app that I have on my...
Published 13 months ago by Herne

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing really conclusive
I am about three quarters through this book now and am quite disappointed. I was hoping to learn some counter-intuitive facts about football and get a deeper understanding of the game. However, the material is actually very thin on substance and there is a lot of repetition and padding. What irks me in particular is the authors' total failure to address the age-old and...
Published 13 months ago by mrman


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting but a small kindle issue, 2 Jun 2013
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I am part way through this book, and the content is VERY interesting (despite the fact I am not a huge football fan I am a numbers fan and loved Moneyball, the book) BUT be warned if you get the kindle version. It DOES NOT display some of the graphs discussed in the text on my Paperwhite although it DOES show them on the Android version of the kindle app that I have on my phone. That said, I am loving the discussions, especially the one about taking corners...will add more when I have finished! 4/5 for the kindle version, 5/5 for the content so far!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Score Draw, 16 Jun 2013
By 
D. Lye "David Lye" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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The Numbers Game is an interesting read if you're interested in football tactics. The sub-heading ("Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong") slightly oversells itself. In fact the book bore out much of what I already thought I knew. And it ducks some challenges - for example in an analysis of the relative value of attackers and defenders, the authors remove Lionel Messi from an analysis of the impact of attacking players because his "coefficient" is so abnormally high - which ducks the point that it is precisely because of players like Messi (however rare they are) that clubs pay huge sums for star attackers.

But quibbles apart, there's lots to interest and entertain the "serious" football fan, and the book is well-written and presented, and manages to present some fairly complex statistical analysis in a clear and helpful way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful and interesting account of recent developments in soccer analytics, and their implications, 29 Oct 2013
By 
Paul Bowes (Wales, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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'The Numbers Game' looks at the future of football from the perspective of mathematical analysis. The enormous increase in the volume of data available on the performance of clubs, players and managers, in tandem with the development of information technology, has made possible new insights into a game dominated by gut instinct, anti-intellectualism and tradition. The book's authors have backgrounds in sociology, football analytics, game theory and professional sport to give authority to their observations.

The book is in the recent tradition established by two influential predecessors: Michael Lewis's pioneering 'Moneyball'(2003), which deals with the impact of analytics on baseball, and Kuper and Symanski's 'Why England Lose' (2009: reissued with revisions and new material as 'Soccernomics', 2012). If 'The Numbers Game' is isn't as straightforwardly compelling as 'Moneyball' - it lacks that book's strong narrative and concentration on a single club - it's at least as interesting and informative as 'Soccernomics', and will appeal to admirers of that book's approach.

The subtitle - 'Why Everything You Know About Football Is Wrong' - is a little misleading. Anderson and Sally do slaughter their fair share of sacred cows, but they are sufficiently objective and even-handed to admit it when their new numbers confirm or nuance rather than contradict some aspect of traditional wisdom. (For example, the manager, the most sacred cow of all, fares rather better at their hands than he does with Kuper and Symanski.) Nor are they afraid to tackle anomalies that at first sight seem to mock the new wisdom. How is it possible for the long ball game to thrive at Stoke when possession football has become the new orthodoxy? If we now believe that team performance can be greatly improved by improving or replacing the worst rather than the best players, why do owners and managers persist in paying fortunes for hugely gifted individuals and then playing them alongside team-mates of significantly lesser ability?

The result is continuously interesting, and represents a genuine, if incremental contribution to the advance in popular understanding of the power of analytics in football. The authors conclude with ten forecasts for the future of soccer and of analytics within the sport; it will be interesting to see how these pan out.

'The Numbers Game' is clearly and accessibly written. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in the statistical and strategic aspects of the sport, rather than the personalities and results, and to anyone looking for insights into likely developments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Football geeks of the world unite, 31 May 2014
By 
P. G. Harris - See all my reviews
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One might surmise that the final corollary to Chris Anderson and David Sally's Numbers Game is that chance may become, in future, an even greater determining factor in the outcome of top level soccer matches.

In their fascinating book, they give a history of the use of statistics as well as providing an analysis of where the game is going, and what constitutes winning strategies and tactics. In this vision of the future, the top clubs are similarly wealthy, understand the value of defence, appreciate that not turning over the ball is the key to success and concentrate on maximising the ability of their weakest player. The difference between the top teams is then going to come down to a sublime moment of skill, an insight from a manager which gives that sliver of "edge" or most often, pure luck.

On the way to their various conclusions, the authors provide some entertaining and interesting moments. They explain the roots of the long ball game from analysis carried out by a post war accountant, and also demonstrate why his theories were flawed. We see how Stoke City under Tony Pulis survived by adopting an approach radically different from what any other club was doing. Alex Ferguson is described provocatively as being only as successful as should have been expected from a club that wealthy. "It can be harder to play against ten men" is comprehensively debunked.

Overall, Anderson and Sally argue their case convincingly, although the resistance they expect from vested interests within the game is depressing. Their statistical arguments are well presented and generally persuasive. On the odd occasion where their arguments seem a little dodgy, it is probably fair to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that the weakness is in the explanation rather than the method.

In the end, I was convinced that their approach was sound, but also inherent in their belief that we will see greater use of analytics, is the knowledge that there will always be a maverick out there who will buck the trend and win matches through being radically unconventional.

A fascinating read if you like the idea of there being something more than blood and thunder to football. If, on the other hand, you think that England's fortunes can be turned around by a great manager who can instil passion into the players, you'll probably find an awful lot to disagree with.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never look at football the same way again., 15 Jan 2014
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You'll never look at Football the same way again. Goes a long way to obliterating many of the lazy cliches and generalisations which are often used in Britain as a substitute for this sort of in depth analysis.

The one thing I hope this book achieves beyond all else, is to highlight how woefully inadequate favourites such as Match of The Day, Sky Sports, amongst others have become at analysing Football matches.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 13 Nov 2013
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Dont agree with everything in the book but gets you thinking about the game in a different way.

A lot of good insight, would definitely recommend
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant read, 5 Nov 2013
I am working on a project on statistical analysis in football and this has many depth studies which cover this as well as an informative description of how statistics are truly used in football when compared to other sports.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eye opening and brings big data in to the football world, 8 Oct 2013
Increasingly big data and the understanding of it is impacting on our daily lives. Little did i realise how much it will impact on my coaching and viewing interest in football. The beautiful games will become even prettier in future as long ss you enjoy numbers! An excellent read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and informed, 21 July 2013
Just finished reading and I must say this book is spot on. I found this to be a refreshing and interesting interpretation of football, and feel as though I have a more comprehensive grasp of the game since reading. If you want to learn more about football's more technical side, this is the book for you!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Make yourself a little better informed, 4 Jun 2013
By 
Tom Groves (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This is a fine addition to the sports analytics library - an intelligent, well researched, well written and very readable book that does a really good job of looking at football in a scientific way.

Don't be put off by the title, the book is very accessible and much more along the lines of Moneyball (of course), Freakonomics or the work of Malcolm Gladwell than a bunch of statistics and equations. It's really well organised, looking at both off- and on- the pitch parts of the game and analysing both what matters and what doesn't.

The book pulls in many examples of social science thinking which are both interesting in themselves and allow the authors to produce reasoned theories about how football works, and how it should work. But I never felt that they claimed too much - they acknowledge this book is just the tip of the iceberg and in future years better data will allow deeper analysis and further insights, perhaps in time for the follow up book...

Well worth your time.
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The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know about Soccer Is Wrong
The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know about Soccer Is Wrong by Chris Anderson (Paperback - 30 July 2013)
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